Traffic this year: Expect the usual nightmareChuseok is that time of year when expressways turn into long, narrow parking lots.
This year, 39.4 million people are expected to return to their hometowns. With this mass movement concentrated in one time period, heavy traffic is forecast for Wednesday as well as Friday, when the holiday ends.
This year, authorities predict the number of vehicles cramming the highways will grow by 9.4 percent, or 21.8 million vehicles, over last year.
That translates into five hours and 20 minutes to cover the 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Seoul to Daejeon, a distance normally covered in two hours. Those heading to Busan should bring a good book and lots of patience: it will take travelers an estimated 10 hours to cover the 445 kilometers of blacktop.
Since the three-day holiday is attached to the weekend this year, traffic may be more dispersed, shaving a few minutes off the driving time.
Last week, in a joint effort, the Ministry of Construction and Transportation, the National Police Agency and the Korean National Railroad announced a special transportation alleviation program running from tomorrow to Monday. The government plans to add 464 trains, 363 express buses and 314 air routes to normal schedules. For drivers’ convenience, the stretch of the Yeongdong Expressway between the Hobeop and Yeoju interchanges has been temporarily reopened. Several national highways still under construction will temporarily open in places from tomorrow to Monday.
The section of the Gyeongbu Expressway between Seocho and Shintanjin has had one high-occupancy lane from noon until midnight daily since last Friday. Only vehicles with more than six passengers will be permitted to use this special lane.
For those returning to the metropolitan area, several bus routes that pass by Seoul Station and the Banpo bus terminal will be operating until 2 a.m.
by Jang Jeong-hoon